It is hard to write about this screenshot without feeling a little teenager-y. This paragraph is at least the 45th way to start this article that has passed through my brain, but it is the first one that does not embarrass me by being filled with immature verbal leering.
Yes they have a female form. So what? Lots of things have a female form. For instance, girls do, and I can write about them without having to suppress Beavis & Butthead sniggers and side comments.
But for some reason, these shots bring out the sixth-grader in me. Nonetheless, I will forcibly set aside my much-younger and less reputable self and look at the images more objectively.
I am immediately curious about the biology involving these two species. Count the mammals you see in these pictures. I come up with a total of zero. Then count the mammaries: way more than zero. Why would a non-mammalian species evolve mammaries?
Do we seriously believe that either Dryads or Succubi suckle their young? Let’s double check another image:
Nope, still not mammals.
One may posit that these are magical creatures, and aren’t required to follow the same rules as natural creatures. Yet still, they must have some origin. Are they hatched? Spawned? Gestated? Cloned? Did they ever have mommies? Did some wizard make them up entirely from nothing? And if so, why are there so many of them and why do they all have similar appearance?
No, these creatures are not manufactured, they are spread throughout Eberron and Faerun (and everywhere else that has a Monster Manual). Wherever they appear they have similar traits and appearance. Clearly, some process results in their formation. Their origin process, whatever it is, is “natural”, spontaneous, and repeatable. And also happens fairly regularly.
They each represent a species in all of the ways that matter: they are part of the fantasy world biosphere.
The Succubus is a vaguely reptilian being that is natively produced (reproduced?) on a plane of existence – Shavarath – that shares the same laws of physics and magic as exist in the prime material plane. How does this happen? Do mommy and daddy devils love each other very much and then suddenly, a new Succubi? There is a male version of the species, the Incubus, so that supports this theory. Are there baby Succubi? Do the mother Succubi bear their young live? Or as eggs of some sort? Or do they spring out already fully grown? And if they are fully grown at birth, does that include the ability to reproduce? And if so, why wouldn’t a species with the ability to reproduce at birth completely overwhelm us with sheer fecundity? Wouldn’t there be Succubi everywhere?
The Dryad is slightly less exotic in that it is produced right here on the prime material plane. On the other hand, it is a form of tree, which is pretty exotic in and of itself. There is no male version of the Dryad, which leads one to assume primarily asexual means of reproduction. Seeds or rhizomes? Neither of which requires the (apparent) ability to suckle their young. Or perhaps they are a hybrid? Maybe a mommy tree and a daddy human love each other very much and then suddenly, a new Dryad? Does it start out as a baby Dryad? Or is it also fully-grown at birth?
Most creatures we encounter in our fantasy tableau have an obvious heredity. When one sees a dragon, one instinctively knows that somewhere, there are dragon eggs and baby dragons. Ditto for owlbears and tarrasques and mindflayers and many, many others.
But not these two. Nothing about their origin is obvious. They simply do not make sense.
But maybe something will occur to us if we look at the images again. Closely and for awhile. In detail. Even if I am unable to come up with a decent origin I won’t mind overly much.
Because, you know. Boobies.